Lawrence O’Donnell, who is probably the most uniquely situated person on television to do it, having worked in both the entertainment and political worlds during the course of his career (and now in the journalistic one too) went directly after NBC’s entertainment division on Wednesday over Donald Trump, whom he calls “the sleazy front man for a campaign to delegitimize” the president of the United States.
Lawrence said the entertainment division has a duty to immediately put an end to Trump’s racist grandstanding, by either firing Trump (which I think at this point most people would prefer), or providing the NBC news division, which got itself stuck in the birther briar patch along with the rest of the mainstream media, with the answer to a simple question: is Trump’s primetime fake reality show being renewed on May 16 or not? Per Lawrence, there are executives in Burbank who know the answer to that question now, and they owe it to the news division to dispense with the coyness. [Video above]
O’Donnell isn’t the only person to directly call out NBC Entertainment over the Trump-led attempt to humiliate the president. Noted historian Douglas Brinkley made almost the same case on CNN:
We don’t have to blame “the media” for dealing with this issue. We have to blame NBC Entertainment. They need to dump Trump from his primetime news show. He’s a poison toad on the airwaves. What corporate sponsor is going to be buying ad time for Donald Trump’s show. Any company that goes into Trump and is willing to pay is going to find consumer boycott like they’ve never seen before. If you are going to do what Trump did and go after the President of the United States in such a grotesque and disingenuous way you better cough up the goods. Today the Obama administration has shown what a charlatan Donald Trump really is.
Brinkley’s advice to NBC? Fire Trump, immediately.
Even if NBC Entertainment steps up and reigns in the monster they created, the mainstream media, which brooked this nonsense for no less than three weeks, and the Republican Party, which has been nursemaiding it for two and a half years, have suffered real, self-inflicted damage.
The one radical thing about Barack Obama is his race, his name. Of course, there is nothing innately radical about being black or having Hussein as middle name; what is radical is that he has those attributes and is sitting in the Oval Office. And even now, more than two years after the fact, this is deeply disturbing to many people, and, at the same time, the easiest way to arouse visceral opposition to him. Let’s be even plainer: to do what Trump has done (and he is only the latest and loudest and most spectacularly hirsute) is a conscious form of race-baiting, of fear-mongering. And if that makes Donald Trump proud, then what does that say for him? Perhaps now he will go away, satisfied that this passage has sufficiently restored his fame quotient and television ratings. The shame is that there are still many more around who, in the name of truth-telling, are prepared to pump the atmosphere full of poison.
That’s an even more subtle rebuke of the media than President Obama himself undertook on Wednesday, but it’s not less stinging.
For the Republican Party, the damage may run even deeper. David Frum calls it what it is, a disgrace:
Now the more haunting question: How did this poisonous and not very subtly racist allegation get such a grip on our conservative movement and our Republican party?
I know there will be Republican writers and conservative publicists who will now deny that birtherism ever did get a grip. Sorry, that’s just wrong. Not only did Trump surge ahead in Republican polls by flaming racial fires – not only did conservative media outlets from Fox to Drudge to the Breitbart sites indulge the birthers – but so also did every Republican candidate who said, “I take the president at his word.” Birthers did not doubt the president’s “word.” They were doubting the official records of the state of Hawaii. It’s like answering a 9/11 conspiracist by saying, “I take the 9/11 families at their word that they lost their loved ones.”
Yet even now, the racialist aspect of the anti-Obama movement has not subsided. Trump has moved from the birth certificate to questioning the president’s academic qualifications for the Harvard Law School. Trump himself was a troubled student (at one point he attended a military school) who nonetheless gained admission to Wharton. His father’s wealth and business success cannot have hurt with that application. Yet he feels himself qualified to pronounce on who is and who is not smart enough to attend Harvard Law. Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude. (And to anticipate a new line of attack – yes, Harvard Law School exams were blind-graded.) He was elected editor of the law review. And his classmates, left and right, universally admired his abilities.
I wish it were otherwise, but it does seem that these racialized attacks on Obama have exacted a toll on him. But they also have exacted a toll on the opposition to Obama. The too-faint repudiation of birtherism by regular Republicans has shaped not only the Obama brand, but also the Republican brand. It was not only white people who heard the implied message about who counts and who does not count as a “real American.” …
I wish it were otherwise, too.
Watch Lawrence O’Donnell eviscerate the original “birther queen,” Orly Taitz during Wednesday night’s “rewrite”:
A thing of beauty.
Meanwhile, a lot of people have asked me about a petition to demand that NBC Entertainment not renew Trump’s faux reality show.
Allan at AngryBlackLady Chronicles has a terrific post containing a letter to NBC, as well as contact information for a person at NBC whom you can contact to air your concerns.